The struggle in all artistic pursuits

Franz West
Sisyphos sculptures
Gagosian, Davies Street, London, UK
June 8 – July 27, 2018

In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the first king of Ephyra, who was punished by Zeus for his deceitfulness and proudness and forced to roll a heavy boulder up a steep hill, only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.

The last art exhibition there was at the Gagosian in Davies Street, London, by Franz West (Vienna, 1947 – Vienna, 2012) referred to the myth told above. The show ended last week, so you’ll have to see these artworks somewhere else they travel to. But, I wanted to share them with you nevertheless, because I think that the sculptures are beautiful and I like the photos we did when we performed at the art space.

Belonging to a generation of artists exposed to the Actionist and Performance Art of the 1960s and 70s, Franz West rejected the idea of a passive relationship between artwork and viewer. He investigated the dichotomy between private and public, action and reaction, both in and outside the gallery, and used everyday materials and imagery to examine art’s relation to social experience.

The Sisyphus myth the artist referred to with this show at the Gagosian gallery is an exploration of the unrelenting frustration of the creative process, the struggle involved in all artistic pursuits that artists and creative people in general are so familiar with.

Franz West unconventional sculpures often require an involvement of the audience, so they are the perfect example of artworks The art berries like to perform with. The ones where the artist encourages the interaction and don’t see our performance as an interference in their work. Having said that, I do believe that everyone should be free to interact with art and enjoy the arts as they please, as long as the artworks are respected. And that is indeed one of the missions of The art berries project.

For the photos displayed here we played with the notions of hide and exposure frequently touched by the artist in his career. Also by lying on the floor, we seem to be resting from the Sisyphean creative struggle. Only for a moment!


La lucha en todas las actividades artísticas

Franz West
Esculturas de Sísifo
Gagosian, Davies Street, Londres, Reino Unido
8 de junio – 27 de julio de 2018

En la mitología griega, Sísifo o Sisyphos fue el primer rey de Ephyra, que fue castigado por Zeus por su comportamiento engañoso y su orgullo, y obligado a rodar una pesada roca por una colina empinada, solo para que ruede cuando se acerca a la cima, repitiendo esta acción por toda la eternidad.

La última exposición de arte que hubo en la galería Gagosian de Londres del artista Franz West (Viena, 1947 – Viena, 2012) se refería al mito mencionado anteriormente. La muestra terminó la semana pasada, por lo que tendrás que ver estas obras de arte en otra galería o museo al que viajen. Pero, quería compartirlas contigo, porque creo que las esculturas son bonitas y me gustan las fotos resultantes de la interacción con las esculturas en este espacio.

Perteneciente a una generación de artistas expuestos al Actionist y Performance Art de los años 60 y 70, Franz West rechazó la idea de una relación pasiva entre obra de arte y espectador. Investigó la dicotomía entre lo privado y lo público, la acción y la reacción, tanto dentro como fuera de la galería, y utilizó materiales e imágenes cotidianas para examinar la relación del arte con la experiencia social.

El mito de Sísifo al que el artista se refirió con esta exposición en la galería Gagosian es una exploración de la frustración del proceso creativo, la lucha permanente que rodea a todas las actividades artísticas con las que los artistas y las personas creativas en general estamos tan familiarizados.

 

Las esculturas no convencionales de Franz West a menudo requieren la participación de la audiencia, por lo que son el ejemplo perfecto de obras de arte con las que nos gusta hacer un ‘performance’ a The art berries. Aquellas en los que el artista fomenta la interacción y no ve nuestro ‘perfomance’ como una interferencia en su trabajo. Habiendo dicho eso, creo que el público debería ser libre de interactuar con el arte y disfrutar del arte como le plazca, siempre y cuando se respeten las obras de arte. Y esa es de echo una de las misiones del proyecto The art berries.

Para las fotos que se muestran aquí, jugamos con las nociones de ocultar y mostrar que con frecuencia tocó el artista en su carrera. También al tumbarnos en el suelo parece que descansamos de la lucha creativa de Sísifo. Sólo por un momento!

Franz West - TheartblueberryFranz West - big sculpure

Shared memories in colour

Howard Hodgkin
Last Paintings
Gagosian, Grovenor Hill, London
June 1 – July 28, 2018

The Gagosian gallery at Grosvenor Hill is now showing a show of Howard Hodgkin, a widely known British contemporary painter I first discovered with an exhibition there was at Tate Britain, London, in 2006. That show spanned his entire career from the 1950s, despite he wasn’t celebrated as a major figure in British art until the 1970s, but it revealed the early development of his visual language. The memory I keep of it is that it was a fest for the senses due to the vibrancy of the colours and expressiveness of the artworks.

The current exhibition at the Gagosian gallery showcases the final six paintings he completed in India before he died in March 2017, including more than twenty other paintings never displayed before in Europe. I was pleased to see his work again, and the final evolution of it as a gold brooch to the show I saw at Tate more than ten years ago.

Despite his work seems abstract at first sight, Hodgkin stated clearly that he wasn’t an abstract painter. The artist did a a continuos exploration of the representation of emotions, personal encounters and above all, memories of specific experiences that the viewer can relate with going back to his/her own experiences.

In an interview with Kenneth Baker in the Summer of 2016 Hodgkin said: “I can’t control the viewer. But I tell them what the picture’s about, always. I’ve never painted an abstract picture in my life. I can’t.”

He showed a passionate commitment to subject and said also in this interview that it’s when the physical reality is established that the subject can begin to show itself. But, he lamented that people didn’t usually see that his pictures where made of shape, drawing and composition.

Shared memories are a key part in his work. And it was very insightful to read the title of the works to know what he had in mind when he made a new painting. That reading was very evocative to me with some works. Like the painting titled “Portrait of the artist listening to music” displayed below, or the one titled “Darkness at noon” where The art raspberry performs as if she were a sculpture in the shadow.

Although we both liked most paintings, my favourite paintings didn’t necessarily coincide with the ones loved by The art raspberry. And, therefore, each of us performed with the ones we liked the most. In some cases, adding a new interpretation. Like with the work titled “Don’t tell a soul”, where mi position in front of the green brushstrokes over yellow seem to suggest “The birth of an idea” or “A moment of inspiration”. Finally, with the painting “Love song” I felt like a butterfly over some flowers and I truly felt connected to it.

Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984 and received the Turner Prize in 1985. In addition, he was included by the newspaper The Independent in a list of the 100 most influential gay people in Britain.


Recuerdos compartidos en color
Howard Hodgkin
Últimas pinturas
Gagosian, Grovenor Hill, Londres
1 de junio – 28 de julio de 2018

La galería Gagosian en Grosvenor Hill, Londres, muestra ahora una exposición de Howard Hodgkin, un pintor británico ampliamente conocido que discubrí por primera vez con una exposición en Tate Britain, Londres, en 2006. Esa muestra abarcaba toda su carrera desde la década de 1950, a pesar de que no fue celebrado como una figura importante en el arte británico hasta la década de 1970, pero revelaba el desarrollo temprano de su lenguaje visual. El recuerdo que guardo de esta muestra es que fue un festival para los sentidos gracias a la vitalidad de los colores y la expresividad de las obras de arte.

La muestra que hay ahora en la galería Gagosian expone las últimas seis pinturas que completó en la India antes de morir en marzo de 2017, incluyendo más de veinte pinturas que nunca antes se habían expuesto en Europa. Me gustó ver su trabajo de nuevo, y la evolución final de este como un broche de oro para la exposición que vi en Tate hace más de diez años.

A pesar de que su trabajo parece abstracto a primera vista, Hodgkin afirmó claramente que no era un pintor abstracto. El artista realizó una exploración continua de la representación de emociones, encuentros personales y, sobre todo, recuerdos de experiencias con las que el espectador puede identificarse fijándose en sus propias experiencias.

En una entrevista con Kenneth Baker en el verano de 2016, Hodgkin dijo: “No puedo controlar al espectador. Pero les digo de qué se trata la imagen, siempre. Nunca he pintado una imagen abstracta en mi vida. No puedo “.

Mostró un compromiso apasionado con el sujeto pictórico y dijo también en esta entrevista que cuando se establece la realidad física es cuando dicho sujeto puede comenzar a mostrarse. Pero, se lamentó de que la gente no suele ver que sus imágenes están hechas de forma, dibujo y composición.

Los recuerdos compartidos son una parte clave de su trabajo. Y fue muy interesante leer el título de las obras para saber lo que él tenía en mente cuando hizo una nueva pintura. Esa lectura fue muy evocadora para mí con algunas obras. Como la pintura titulada “Retrato del artista que escucha música” que se muestra abajo, o la que se titula “Oscuridad al mediodía” donde The art raspberry actúa como si fuera una escultura en la sombra.

Aunque a los dos nos gustaron la mayoría de las pinturas, mis pinturas preferidas no coincidieron necesariamente con las que le gustaron a ella. Cada una hizo su ‘peformance’ con la obras con las que mas conectó en aquel momento. En algunos casos, añadiendo una nueva interpretación. Al igual que con el trabajo titulado “No le digas a un alma”, donde mi posición delante de las pinceladas verdes sobre amarillo parecen sugerir “El nacimiento de una idea” o “Un momento de inspiración”. Finalmente, con la pintura “Canción de amor” me sentí como una mariposa sobre algunas flores y me sentí conectada con la pintura.

Hodgkin representó a Gran Bretaña en la Bienal de Venecia en 1984 y recibió el Premio Turner en 1985. Además, fue incluido por el periódico The Independent en una lista de los 100 gays más influyentes en Gran Bretaña.

Howard Hodgkins-The art raspberry

The art raspberry performing next to “Darkness at noon” (2015-2016).

Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry2Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry1Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry3

The art blueberry performing next to “Love song” (2015).

Howard Hodgkin-Red sky at night

Painting above: “Red sky at night” (2001-2011).

Howard Hodgkin-red sky in the morning

Painting above: “Red sky in the morning” (2016).

Howard Hodgkin-Darkness at noon

Painting above: “Darkness at noon” (2015-2016).

Howard Hodgkin-Indian veg

Painting above: “Indian veg” (2013 – 2014).

1932: A year of renewed creativity

Current art exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy
Tate Modern, London, UK.

8 March – 9 September 2018

I’m delighted to cover the first ever solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso at Tate Modern and what is certainly the blockbuster art show of the season here in London. I believe that Picasso was one of the most relevant figures in the arts in the 20th century, and a great artist who kept exploring new artistic avenues all his life.

I liked the curating work done for this EY exhibition at Tate Modern, as I did like the one done at The National Portrait Gallery at the end of 2016 based on “Picasso Portraits“. I found the latter was excellent to showcase the artist’s capacity to redefine the portrait with each woman in his life.

Picasso said once that “The work one does is a way of keeping a diary.” The current art exhibition at Tate Modern is like a diary that takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932; a year that’s been called his ‘year of wonders’ for how relevant it was from a personal and career perspective.

In his personal life, he was 50 years old and his marriage with Olga Picasso (previously Khokhlova) was under strain. The affair he was having with the significantly younger Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young woman of 22, offered him a escape and a source of inspiration for much of his work in this period. Walter is the central presence in this exhibition and who inspired him to reach a new level of sensuality with his paintings.

From a career perspective, this was the year that cemented Picasso as a celebrity within the art world. A group of Paris dealers competed to launch the first ever retrospective of his work, when retrospectives of living artists were still unusual. Matisse’s retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in 1931 had been a rare exception and Picasso wanted to have his own too. He even declined offers from the MOMA in New York and the Venice Biennale to have his own retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit, which happened in June 1932. Picasso took full control of the show to avoid giving too much power to his dealers. But, then he didn’t attend the opening, choosing to go to the cinema instead. That art show cemented his celebrity status and offered the first hint of having a new woman in his life.

He escaped to Boisgeloup with Marie-Thérèse Walter in July and August, and his style became faster and more fluid. She was a great swimmer, so he used this fact to showcase similarities between women and sea creatures with a strong surrealist influence.

This art exhibition presents also some of the drawings he did in charcoal in 1932. Some of them in canvas as they were works in their own right, not preparatory studies. For some paintings, he liked focusing on line and shape rather than in colour. I was lucky to see the fantastic “Picasso Black and White” exhibition held at the Guggenheim in New York in 2012, which explored the fantastic use of black and white he did throughout his career. It’d be good to see a similar art show like that in London sometime soon.

Towards the end of the show, we could see the series of drawings and paintings inspired by classical themes, both secular and religious, such as the Crucifixion, by Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece and  scenes of reclining nudes and flute players, mostly associated with surrealism. Although he was sceptical of group membership of any kind. The flute players in purple and green reminded me of Chagall’s figures with a whimsical and magic touch.

The year that started with sensuous exuberance progressed into a more darkened mood after Marie-Thérèse fell very ill after swimming in the river Marne. His paintings reflected scenes of rescue and struggle. What’s more, he became increasingly anxious about the political situation there was in Europe at the time with populist nationalism and totalitarian regimes, which would eventually finish with tragedy first in Spain and then all over Europe.

Some of Picasso’s most iconic and loved works like ‘Nude woman in a red armchair’ from the Tate collection, ’Girl before a mirror’ from The Museum of Modern Art in NY or ‘The dream’ are displayed in this show . Also, I enjoyed to see two of the sculptures shown in this show created in Boisgeloup, a big bust of Marie-Thérèse and the ‘Cock’ that was a rare example among all the female figures he made; it shares the sweeping curves with them and includes a profile beneath the tail feathers. The original plaster was cast in bronze in 1952. One of The art berries’ pictures captures the ‘Cock’ and adds another profile to it.

I enjoyed this exhibition because at a time in which critics were questioning his ability to create new work, he once again redefined the tradition of western art with a new style full of sensuality, fluidity and vibrancy. Something only a great artist can do.

Fashion notes:
Raspberry wears a dress from COS stores.
Blueberry wears a shirt from Cynthia Rowley and a vintage jumper.
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Picasso-b&wPicasso-cock

Art creation as an ongoing process

Past art shows: Giorgio Griffa. A continuos becoming.
Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.
26 January – 8 April 2018

We visited this art exhibition in March this year and got really inspired by the paintings presented by Giorgio Griffa (1936) at the Camden Art Centre. Griffa is an Italian abstract painter who lives and works in Turin and has been closely related to Arte Povera, which stands for ‘poor art’. This is a movement that appeared in Italy in the 1960s and with which artists sought to radically redefine painting by incorporating throwaway or ‘poor’ materials into their work.

Griffa believes in the ‘intelligence of painting’ and allows for every element of the process to influence and form his work, from the type of brush he uses to the nature of the canvas or the dilution of the pain.

Griffa’s approach is performative and time-base, as he assures that painting is “constant and never finished”.

 

His sources of inspiration are quantum energy, time-space mathematics, the golden ratio and the memory of visual experience since time immemorial. The body of work he presented at the Camden Arts Centre spans his career as an artist from the 1960s through to today and it was curated by artist and curator Stephen Nelson.

I found this exhibition visually striking and very much of my taste. The use of bold and primary colours over unstretched raw canvas was reinforced by the white background of the walls. As soon as I went through the door I felt I was entering the artist’s individual universe. The simple shapes and materials he uses on his paintings resonate with me; as if the artist had found a series of universal symbols and shared them with the rest of the world.

Performing as The art berries, we added another layer to these art exhibition and I dare to say that Griffa would approve of this addition to his work, not only for what it brought of improvisation and time-base performance, but also for the “constant and never finished” approach he likes to use on his paintings.

 

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